The Williams Creek Aquatic Restoration Project (#15-1247) the first phase of proposed restoration of tributaries and floodplains in the Williams Creek watershed. The project is linked to the US Forest Service (USFS) Swauk Pine Restoration Project. This large-scale project takes a watershed approach to restoring both upland forest ecosystems and natural water processes to enhance habitat for threatened fish and wildlife species.
There are over 90 site-specific riparian and aquatic restoration projects identified in the Swauk Pine Restoration Plan. It is KCT’s goal to support the Cle Elum Ranger District staff’s efforts to implement all the identified projects in the Swauk Pine project area.
Because of the breath of the project, KCT worked closely with USFS staff to determine the key project needs. We determined that culvert replacement elements would provide the maximum benefit to fish. At the same time, this work helped increase communication and awareness with the local community and those with mining rights in the project area.
The project scope included:
1. Completing preliminary design for Lions Gulch Culvert
2. Preparing final designs for the remaining 3 fish passage barriers (2 on Cougar Gulch and 1 on Williams Creek)
3. Installing two new culverts on Cougar Gulch to provide fish passage
Following the completion of the final designs, we installed two culverts on Cougar Gulch. These undersized culverts created fish passage barriers. Additionally, they posed a threat to the road. If a large flood event took place, the culverts would not be able to accommodate the flow causing it to wash out.
First, the contractor removed the old cylindrical culverts and laid down a bed of gravel. This gravel matched the consistency of what was already in the creek. Next, the new arch-shaped culverts were placed. This shape allows the creek to remain connected to the floodplain. Finally, the contractor filled in the area with the excavated earth and spread native grass seed.
For more information on the project, visit the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office’s Project Snapshot: https://secure.rco.wa.gov/prism/search/ProjectSnapshot.aspx?ProjectNumber=15-1247
Because of the success of this project, we are partnering with the Forest Service to identify other similar projects. In order to increase healthy landscapes, the Forest Service is currently working on completing permitting in other watersheds. This work identified many other fish barriers. Following the completion of the permitting, we will work with staff to prioritize which projects to tackle first.